Friday, October 3, 2008

Tie Goes to the Moron

I came away from last night's vice-presidential debate convinced of two things: Sarah Palin is not qualified to be the President of the United States (and, by extension, therefore not qualified to be Vice President), and John McCain seems to have developed horrendous judgment when it comes to really important matters like naming your potential successor.

Now in the debate itself, the expectations for Palin's performance had been set so outrageously low, that popular media is grudgingly handing out tepid applause to her performance. And conservative writers are downright relieved: she wasn't asked to name any Supreme Court cases she disagrees with or newspapers that she likes to read, and escaped the evening without any Palinesque gaffes that were becoming the norm for her in the past few weeks.

But what did she really accomplish last night other than repeat a few well-worn cliches about mavericks and tax cuts, and contradict herself about regulating Wall Street while getting government out of the way of business? She styles herself as a Jane Sixpack and a hockey mom, but when did that become a desirable quality in a potential leader of the free world. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote this morning that:
The presidency and the vice presidency once was the preserve of white men in
suits. As the historian Ellen Fitzpatrick pointed out on PBS Thursday night, if,
in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro had spoken in the relentlessly folksy tones that
Palin used, she would have been hounded out of politics as fundamentally
unserious. But that was before casual Fridays, boxers or briefs and
T-shirt-clad Silicon Valley executives. Today, Palin can hit those
colloquial notes again and again, and it is not automatically disqualifying.

Why not? Why isn't it automatically disqualifying when someone applying for a desperately serious job in a desperately serious time carries herself so un-seriously. Winking at the camera, saying "you betcha," and "darn right" is cute, and according to Mr. Brooks it plays well in the sticks, but when the shit hits the fan, does the advent of casual Fridays really mean that America can afford to elect a vice president who has such a weak grasp of national and international issues? Just because she "comes from Main Street" and "understands working people"?

God forgive me, but give me Dick Cheney any day of the week.

All that said, it's not really Sarah Palin's fault. In fact, to her credit, she has never been anything other than a small town mayor who was in the right place at the right time and ended up governor of a small state (well, small in terms of the number of people she has to govern). Sarah Palin has not changed who she is - folksy, "regular," and very much an arch-conservative ideologue. I can disagree with her, and I can insist she is unqualified (I do, and I do), but whatever.

The real outcry here should not be about Sarah Palin, but about the man who offered her a shot at being President of the United States. John McCain used to be a level-headed, pragmatic politician (even if a bit more conservative than the reputation he earned in 2000). He eschewed wild political ideology, and often was able to build consensus close to the center of the political spectrum. When you are an occasional centrist, it's no surprise you have good relationships on both sides of the aisle. John McCain would have never, ever have selected Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2000 (even if 2008 Palin was available in 2000). But in 2008, he traded in his pragmatic, common-sense credentials for a shot at the big chair. And that is when he lost so many people in the middle. John McCain's one claim to legitimacy - that he rejects the radical left and the radical right - was belied by his selection of Sarah Palin.

That, my friends, is what I think of first and foremost every time I listen to Governor Palin. It's not: "what the hell is wrong with her?", it's: "what the hell is wrong with him?"


The Notorious LJT said...

Basically, being president is on John McCain's 'bucket list' and he's going to do whatever he can to get there.

Had Palin not had such a disastrous showing on Katie Couric - which, by the way, why do interviews last for a week and a half these days - it may be a different story.

But, fortunately, the tide appears to be turning (knock on wood) and McCain Palin have given up on Michigan. That, of course, can change but things are looking up - for today, at least.

rice said...

The arguement that it's not Palin's fault, that she was asked to be the VP candidate on her party's ticket and when you are asked that you say yes, is legit. She can't say: Oh, no thanks, I'm not qualified. If the Red Sox asked me to be play second base for them, I'd accept.
But this fact remains: She is inarticulate and seemingly in the dark about issues that are not germane to Alaska. It seems to me that everyone, including those living on "main street," is entitled to a VP who speaks clearly and intelligently about her stances on every topic, not one who puts words together like some kind of jumble.
Is the fact that she is in the political spotlight McCain's fault? I suppose so, sure. Just not sure it matters. Either way, whether his fault or not, people who do not vote along party lines blindly aand who are interested in having a VP who can run the show if needed are going to steer clear of Palin and vote against McCain. At least I sure hope so.
And by the way, I am the same size as Pedroia. Theo, let me know if I can help.

ChuckJerry said...

If I were given two weeks to prepare and you told me that I had to go up against Joe Biden in a debate and I had to play the part of the Republican nominee for vice president, I would do a pretty good job expounding on the issues relevant to Republicans.

So would any of you.

But she can't do it extemporaneously because she's wildly unqualified.

I love that analogy, Rice. If Omar called me up and asked me to play left field for the Mets, I wouldn't turn him down.

Sarah Palin is like the Rocky Balboa of 2008.

Open Bar said...

No one gives a shit about VP debates. The only reason people tuned in to this one was that they thought it might be entertaining. As it turned out, it was a straight policy debate. Palin didn't sound like a total moron, but she didn't blow anyone away either. Biden would've had to sprout wings and flap around the room singing Whispering Bells for anyone spill any ink about him today. That shit was very definitely not about him.

Last night won't change anyone's minds, and no one's even gonna remember it in a few days, much less November 4th.

Amanda said...

Expanding upon Side Bar's comment regarding the media's "tepid" applause of Palin today, I find it particularly annoying that it is acceptable to the nation that the bar is set so radically low for someone who is running to be second in command of the ENTIRE country. Also, its astounding and aggravating that Palin can get away with her "folksy" phrases and not be dubbed a total moron. The media panned W. for making up and misprounouncing words that are part of a President's everyday vernacular, why aren't they pouncing on her for words like "betcha" and idiotic phrases like, "there you go again Joe, blah blah..." Sarah Palin is basically qualified to be the student body vice president of a small high school, and that's about it, in my opinion.

Side Bar said...

It is official - every single one of our readers, and every single one of our authors have responded to this post. A new world record.

Wheeeeeere's Luke? has arrived.

ChuckJerry said...

I am a little bit surprised that no one jumped on the part where she said, "How long have I been at this now? Only four or five weeks."

Jessica said...

A small thing maybe, but I was particularly irritated by the fact that she can't pronounce nuclear correctly.

Sidebar - it's now official - all readers have commented.

Open Bar said...

I cannot fucking stand that "nook-yuh-ler" shit. It's especially fucked up too, because at her convention speech they had her pronounce it correctly. They literally put fucking "new-clear" on the teleprompter! I hate that embrace of stupidity and ignorance. God! Fuck!

Okay, I'll calm down. Proceed.

Walt Clyde Frazier said...

"It is official - every single one of our readers, and every single one of our authors have responded to this post. A new world record."

As arguably your most frequent non-author comment producer, I am offended, sir.

Matt Dabney said...

I too am offended Walt

Side Bar said...

Walt - fair enough. My bad.

Daff - you never comment, so I didn't know you were a reader as well.

rick said...